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|Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Tipo 33/2 Long Tail Sports-Prototype Coupe|
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|The ex-1968 and 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours Racing Team VDS|
1968 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/2 Long Tail Sports-Prototype Coupe
Chassis no. 75033.016
Engine no. 0022
-One of the most beautiful sports-prototypes of its era
-Rare (circa ten known to exist) and one of even fewer in long tail configuration
-Preserved on museum display for decades
-Eligible for Goodwood, Le Mans Classique, Tour Auto, Modena Cento Ore and much more
Alfa Romeo’s modern racing endeavours were handled by a satellite company named Autodelta, which had been founded at Udine in 1963 by ex-Ferrari and ex-ATS engineer Carlo Chiti, in partnership with Ludovico Chizzola. They prepared and modified Alfa Romeo production cars for competition, moved the company to Settimo Milanese in 1964, and became an integral part of Alfa Romeo there in 1966. From 1967 they built and campaigned their long series of Alfa Romeo T33 sports-racing cars; making chassis, bodies, engines, gearboxes, running gear…everything – with help where needed being provided by the main Alfa Romeo production plants.
It was back in the winter of 1966 that Autodelta were testing and undertaking final development of an ambitious sports-prototype racing car, intended to take Alfa Romeo to war in the two-litre category of the World Manufacturers’ Championship of endurance races.
Work had started on what was then entitled the Tipo 105.33 in September, 1964, and the prototype was ready by the end of 1965, provisionally fitted with a TZ2 4-cylinder engine. The first Tipo 33 two-litre sports-prototype was first shown to the assembled press at Alfa’s Balocco test track on 6th March, 1967. Most intriguingly, its chassis was composed of large-diameter single tubular members formed from riveted heavy-gauge aluminium coated internally with plastic sealer to create fuel tankage. The car’s forepart comprised an intricate magnesium-alloy casting forming the front bulkhead which supported the rack-and-pinion steering gear and the front suspension pick-ups. Two cast magnesium alloy legs protruded from the main structure at the rear of the car, these two ‘horns’ supporting a fabricated sheet metal saddle which supported the rear suspension.
Suspension was all-independent by wishbones and links front and rear, with interposed coil-spring/damper units and radius rods providing longitudinal control at the rear. Ventilated disc brakes were mounted inboard at the rear upon the transaxle gearbox cheeks. The 13-inch cast-alloy road wheels were attached by four-bolt fixings.
Power was provided by a two-litre, 90-degree, 4-cam V8 engine, displacing 1,995cc, with Lucas fuel injection and twin-plug per cylinder coil ignition. This new V8 delivered a claimed 270bhp at 9,600rpm. The car overall weighed some 580kg and top speed was promoted as being 185mph. Air intake for the ram pipes within the engine vee was provided via a tall air-box which earned the prototype Alfa Romeo T33 its nickname – the ‘Periscopica’. Design of this original T33 was credited to Alfa Romeo’s long-serving Technical Director Orazio Satta and his able (ex-Ferrari) lieutenant, Giuseppe Busso.
Six days after its press launch, works test driver Teodoro Zeccoli gave the new T33 its maiden competition appearance in the minor Fléron hill-climb in Belgium. It won the event from a 4.4-litre McLaren and a 2.7-litre Brabham-Climax, both single-seaters.
After a test session on the Targa Florio circuit in Sicily, Autodelta entered two T33s for the 1967 Sebring 12-Hours classic in Florida, USA. Andrea de Adamich led on the opening lap but both cars ultimately retired due to overheating.
Four cars were then fielded in the Targa Florio but suspension failures, ignition problems and a minor accident foiled Alfa’s hopes. On 28th May the Nürburgring 1,000Kms saw de Adamich/’Nanni’ Galli take over the sister Bussinello/Zeccoli car after their own had failed, and they finished a commendable fifth behind four Porsche 910s.
After this patchy debut season, Autodelta’s quasi-works Alfa Romeo team re-worked and further developed the two-litre T33 theme in preparation for the 1968 season. On 3-4th February, 1968, the redesigned sports-prototypes contested the Daytona 24-Hours race in Florida. Front suspension had been reinforced and wider track adopted to improve handling. The V8 engine re-emerged with more power and completely new coupé body panelling was adopted. Addition or removal of a small roof panel could convert it from open roadster to closed coupé form, whilst alternative long and short-tail rear clamshell sections were provided. Both the oil and water radiators were moved back from their original nose mounting to a hip position just ahead of the rear wheels. The new model was to become known as the ‘33/2 Daytona’, and these cars lacked the ‘periscope’ intake of their 1967 predecessors.
Ing. Carlo Chiti imposed a team rev limit of 8,300rpm upon his drivers, and the cars proved completely reliable in this long and gruelling race. They finished 5th, 6th and 7th behind three Porsche 907s and a Ford Mustang. The Autodelta team drivers at Daytona were Udo Schutz/ Nino Vaccarella, Mario Andretti/ Lucien Bianchi and Giampiero Biscaldi/ Mario Casoni.
The 1968 Targa Florio then saw local specialist Vaccarella sharing his T33 with the giant German, Schutz, and it was equipped with an enlarged 2.5-litre V8 engine, developing some 315bhp. For this race a nose oil cooler was refitted, with hot air exits cut in the body just aft of the front wheel arches.
Vaccarella was only some 20 seconds behind Ludovico Scarfiotti’s leading Porsche when he handed over to Udo Schutz – who unfortunately lost control on some gravel and crashed into a roadside wall. Both the Vic Elford/ Umberto Maglioli and Scarfiotti/ Mitter Porsches were delayed, which elevated the T33s of Galli/ Ignazio Giunti and Bianchi/ Casoni into first and second places. However, Elford fought back, finally winning from the two Alfa Romeos with the private Belgian Team VDS-entered T33 of Teddy Pilette/ Rob Slotemaker fifth and the works car of Giancarlo Baghetti/ Biscaldi sixth.
These Alfa Romeo T33s were immensely distinctive in period, making a terrific high-revving V8 noise in stark contrast to the less raucous works Porsche 907s and 908s which they pushed so hard. In the Nürburging 1,000Kms Galli/ Giunti finished 5th, Schutz/ Bianchi 7th and Schultze/ Vaccarella 10th, with the Team VDS cars 13th and 29th.
Four Autodelta short-tailed T33s contested the Mugello road race, Bianchi/ Vaccarella/ Galli winning outright – and in the 500kms Shell Cup race at Imola T33s finished 1-2-3.
The Le Mans 24-Hours was run in September that year – postponed from its traditional June date due to political unrest in France – and Galli/ Giunti, Facetti/ Dini and Biscaldi/ Casoni had a wonderful race, finishing 4-5-6 – beaten only by the winning Gulf-JW Ford GT40 and works Typ 907 and 908 Porsches. At the end of that 1968 season the Tipo 33 works cars took third place in the World Manufacturers’ Championship, bettered only by Ford and Porsche…not bad company…
Major chassis structure changes were then made to the T33-series design in preparation for the 1969 racing season – but several dream cars were built using the prototype model’s original-style tubular frame. The first had actually pre-dated the T33 ‘Periscopica’ itself, having been exhibited at the Paris Salon in October, 1966. This was the Scarabeo, the result of cooperation between Alfa Romeo and OSI, the Torinese Coachbuilding company. The rear-engined Scarabeo featured a GTA Giulia engine with integral gearbox while the body was formed in glass fibre and adapted from styling concepts by an American industrial designer named Dann Deaver.
Of greater importance was the magnificent T33 Stradale road car – of which 18-19 were claimed to have been built between 1967 and 1969 (the actual number is probably rather lower)– styled by Franco Scaglione. The chassis centre-section on the Stradale was in steel rather than aluminium and its wheelbase was some 100mm – or 3.9 inches – longer than the sports-prototype.
The most influential of the T33-based ‘dream cars’ was probably the Bertone Carabo presented at the 1968 Turin Salon – styled by Marcello Gandini, Bertone’s successor to Giorgetto Giugiaro. It pioneered an unbroken line from the bonnet to the end of the windscreen, this being achieved by use of very-high resistance glass just developed by the Belgian company Glaverbel. The Carabo also featured upward and forward-opening doors balanced by hydro-pneumatic rams and slats over the rear window glazing.
Pininfarina also produced three ‘dream cars’ on T33 Stradale chassis, a two-seat roadster at the 1968 Turin Salon, a two-seat coupé almost identical to their Ferrari ‘P5’ in 1969 and the ‘wedge’ or ‘Cuneo’ of 1971. In addition, Giugiaro of Ital Design produced his 33 Iguana wedge-form two-seat coupé on the Alfa Romeo chassis, while Bertone’s Gandini based his dart-like Navajo two-seat aerodynamic coupé of 1976 also upon a T33 frame.
For 1969 the large-diameter tube chassis structure was replaced by a more conventional sheet-panelled monocoque tub. Engine size was increased to the full three-litres permitted by International regulations for World Championship of Makes sports-prototype cars.
As with all Autodelta racing cars, it is extremely difficult to identify without doubt which individual car was used by which drivers in which race. Autodelta’s record-keeping was chaotic at best and Carlo Chiti thought little of swapping chassis plates from car to car to meet deadlines when customs paperwork for an entry had already been submitted but the intended car was not ready. The car we offer today comes from the greatest collection of Alfa Romeo Tipo 33s ever assembled: the Rosso Bianco museum of German entrepreneur and ‘60s gentleman driver Peter Kaus, near Frankfurt. We asked Peter, an old friend, what he remembered about this long tail coupe and he believes he acquired it directly from Autodelta in the 1970s, had it checked over by his museum staff and ran it only once or twice in his entire ownership. Painstakingly built up over several decades starting in the late 1960s, his Rosso Bianco collection was sold in its entirety early in 2006 to the present owner, another respected enthusiast whose father began the family car collection before the war, making it today the oldest of its kind in the world and one of the largest and most diverse.
Following the inauguration of a new, purpose built museum in 2010 it has been decided to sell some of the remaining ex-Rosso Bianco motorcars which are surplus to requirements. As the collection already contains several Tipo 33s, including a standard ‘short tail’ Daytona which serves to illustrate the model to visitors, Kidston SA has been entrusted with the sale of the most valuable and sought-after example, this lovely, beautifully streamlined Le Mans specification ‘long tail’ coupe. In the interests of providing the best and most impartial information possible we invited Alfa Romeo historians and authors Ed McDonough and Peter Collins to inspect the car and report their findings, which we share herewith:
“This is a 1968 T33/2 and all the cars of this model had a chassis prefix of 75033. This car is one of the Daytona coupes carrying the long-tail rear body section. The car has had a sympathetic restoration at the front end with the suspension appearing to be new or well restored. The cockpit, however, appears to be not more than tidied up. The steering wheel is original and well-used, the electrics are original period equipment and the car has its period angled instrumentation. The gear shift lever and mechanism would seem untouched. This car has a number of interesting points, including a roof panel with a large bubble over the drivers head to accommodate a tall driver, and this is larger than on other examples we have seen. It also has a significant decal on the dash reading "53rd Targa Florio, 4 May 1969" and this appears genuine. This car has vertical spoilers on the long tail which are painted green on the right side only of each spoiler. The small gurney flaps on either side of the rear section are different, the left one having a more acute bend in it than the other presumably to create differing down-force on one side at certain circuits.”
“The engine compartment has been restored with some new but original period components. The bell-housing is stamped 0022, and the gearbox is stamped AD 29. The rear body section is very heavy which is consistent with all the 1968 cars which seemed to carry excessive weight in the body sections. The car is on Goodyear Racing tyres on the front: 4.80/10.20-13 and Dunlop Racing on the rear: 6.00/12.00-13.”
“We consider this car to be a genuine period 1968 T33/2. There is some existing evidence that this is one of the Team VDS cars, probably the car VDS ran at Le Mans in 1968 with race #65. We have previously identified that car as chassis 75033.012, the car in the Alfa Romeo Museum at Arese. However, it appears more likely that this is the second Team VDS car to be fitted occasionally with the 2.5-litre engine. 75033.016 has also been separately identified as a VDS car, and there is logic in this in that the other car using the 2.5 engine was 75033.015 which has been authenticated. De Adamich/ Vaccarella raced a 2.5-litre car at the 1969 Targa Florio and it is thought this was a car borrowed back from VDS. The only car from that race unidentified is the de Adamich/ Vaccarella car, the others being 014, 029, 017, 022 and these are all accounted for, thus strengthening the argument that it is 016.”
We furthermore consulted Belgian Alfista and author Tony Adriaensens, who succeeded in tracking down the ACO entry forms for the Le Mans races of both 1968 and 1969 which confirm that chassis ‘016’ was entered on both occasions by his fellow Belgian Count Rudi van der Straten’s successful Racing Team VDS. Tony adds: “750.33.016 was entered as a long-tail car by VDS for the 1968 Le Mans 24 Hours. Race number was 65; drivers were Belgians Teddy Pilette and Serge Trosch for this race, the car used engine # 0012 which was a 1997cc unit, and retired with engine trouble already after two hours of racing.”
“750.33.016 was entered again as a long-tail car by the Belgian Team VDS for the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours. Race number was 38; Belgian drivers were Gustave Gosselin and Claude Bourgoignie for this race, the car used engine # 0029 which also was a 1997cc unit, but they retired during the eighth hour due to an accident.”
Interestingly Tony offers the following observation about attributing Targa Florio provenance to any car: “There's no proof of this being the Vaccarella/ deAdamich car, nor of any other that were entered for the Targa Florio - as mentioned before and as far as I know, there are no period archives on the Targa that show (black on white) the chassis/ engine numbers of cars entered. If they do exist, I'd love to have a look at them...”
As offered today the long tail coupe has not been driven for many years and will require ‘going through’ before serious use is contemplated. There are however various specialists on both sides of the Atlantic who have recent experience in running T33s in historic events, and this should present no problem. The car is believed complete and we are aware of no faults.
Late 1960s sports-prototypes are a potential growth area in the collecting scene: witness the appreciation of Porsche 917Ks in recent years, and the interest in events which showcase such cars. We believe this largely untouched, exquisitely proportioned and wonderfully evocative Alfa Romeo combines excitement, beauty and considerable appreciation to tempt its next custodian.